July 20th, 2007
05:04 PM ET
12 years ago

Clinton, Kerry to sponsor law requiring Pentagon briefing on Iraq withdrawal

Clinton fired back at the Pentagon Friday after it called a question of hers 'premature.'

WASHINGTON (CNN) - A day after reports of a testy exchange between Democratic Senator and presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton and the Department of Defense, CNN has learned that Clinton and Sen. John Kerry will join forces to introduce legislation requiring the Pentagon to brief Congress on the military's contingency plans for withdrawing from Iraq.

In May, Clinton sent a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates requesting that Gates brief the appropriate congressional committees about the Pentagon's contingency plans for withdrawal. Clinton's May letter also asked, in the alternative, that Gates explain why no such plans existed.

Earlier this week, Defense Department Undersecretary Eric Edelman responded to Clinton's letter" "Premature and public discussion of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq reinforces enemy propaganda that the United States will abandon its allies in Iraq, much as we are perceived to have done in Vietnam, Lebanon and Somalia," wrote Edelman. Clinton, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, fired off another letter to Gates Thursday again requesting that the Pentagon brief Congress about withdrawal plans. Gates has yet to respond to Clinton's second letter.

CNN has learned that Clinton and Kerry are upping the ante and will introduce legislation that requires Gates to provide the congressional briefing Clinton has now requested twice. "From New Orleans to Baghdad, this administration has made planning a dirty word and an alien concept, and the damage to our country has been immeasurable as a result," Kerry told reporters on Friday. "We need to make sure that we are smarter getting out of Iraq than we were getting into Iraq," added Clinton.

Although Clinton said Friday that she believes the bill will have bipartisan interest, the ultimate success of the Clinton-Kerry briefing legislation is doubtful. Just last week Senate Republicans John Warner of Virginia and Richard Lugar of Indiana introduced similar legislation that would have required President Bush to provide post-surge military plans, including plans for an eventual withdrawal from Iraq. Democratic Senate leader Harry Reid of Nevada refused to let the Republican bill come up for a vote.

On Friday evening, Defense Secretary Gates released a statement regarding the Defense Department's dust-up with Clinton. Clearly trying to defuse the situation, Gates said he is a strong supporter of Congressional oversight and also of Congressional debate on Iraq. Gates also promised to look into the issues Clinton has raised.

- CNN's Dana Bash and Martina Stewart

Filed under: Uncategorized
soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. Tom Dedham, Mass

    It's called grandstanding folks.

    There already is a similar bill, that was drafted by Republicans but Scary Reid didn't allow it to be voted on.

    They were busy planning a slumber party.

    Neither of these two would read it anyway, they didn't read the last batch.

    July 20, 2007 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  2. anonymous Tulsa, OK

    "Whaaaaaaa!! Do what we tell you – we're impotent ~ er ~ important!!"

    John and Hillary

    July 20, 2007 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  3. B.ProsserME




    July 20, 2007 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  4. Glenn,B'ham,Al

    Its hard to take this woman serious.

    July 20, 2007 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  5. erika morgan black dimond wa

    In light of the grave failures of planing by this administration for contingencies caused by themselves and their actions; I think the request for proof of more forethought is necessary, fair, honest, smart, required, and a very good idea. We already know that the need for plans to cover the unexpected eventualities have been repeatedly forgotten over the last 6+ years, so the right of this request is glaringly obvious.

    July 20, 2007 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  6. DH Saginaw, MI

    Clinton and Kerry.......what a pair! The only ones interested are your reporters.

    July 20, 2007 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  7. Honolulu, Hawaii

    I may have to go back to the Constitution, but I believe the military (and the SECDEF) report to the Commander in Chief (President). I can't believe that Congress would be authorized to enact a law that would undermine that authority. I'd bet that one would be contested by any White House.

    I really wish Congress would get back to doing something constructive. Skip the debates on discussion on Vick's dog fighting (let the police handle it), whether or not to get involved in MLB drug testing, or just whining.
    Maybe they could do something like cut the pork out of most of the bills they pass, boot the lobbyists out of the Beltway, or help solve our national debt.

    Mahalo and Aloha

    July 20, 2007 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  8. SallyH Cedar Rapids, Iowa

    Way to go Hillary and John Kerry, it's about time someone finally held this corrupt administration accountable. What a shameful mess they have us in. We all want to know what their plans are... besides staying the course and spending billions of dollars, and killing our brave young men and women, so Halliburton can make themselves richer and richer.

    July 21, 2007 12:41 am at 12:41 am |
  9. Jon, Madison, WI

    "Give all our secrets to the enemy"?

    Is this supposed to be a joke?

    The only secret here is that the "war" we have declared on an "enemy" will not end until at least the end of 2008, when Bush & Co. is no longer in control.

    The only plan this administration has developed and stuck to is this: "Prolong the war until the end of Bush's term by any means necessary-after that, who cares?"

    Who is the greater fool–the guy who makes a mistake and fixes it, or the guy who makes a mistake and pretends he never made it in the first place?

    July 21, 2007 01:49 am at 1:49 am |
  10. Arlin Maple Shade, NJ

    The Pentagon should withold all strategic and contingency plans from Hillary and Kerry. They only want them for political cannon foder. They would be in the Media 1 hour later and on Osama table in another 15 minutes.

    I trust the Pentagon more than Congress. Our men and women in uniform are 99% "Patriots" while Men an Women in Congress are 90% "Grandstanders" and "Pork Grabbers". Hillary is not the Commander in Chief, although. she seems to be unaware of that!

    July 21, 2007 04:13 am at 4:13 am |
  11. Chris, Fort Eustis, VA

    once she gets the information she will probably disclose it on her website for all to see. Good job, there's a reason why the Pentagon doesn't disclose it's war plans dummy!!!

    July 21, 2007 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  12. John Strong, Bowling Green, Kentucky

    Go get 'em, Hillary !!!
    We remember the Pentagon fumbled withdrawal from Vietnam and the fumbled Iraq conflict. Let's hear what the planners have in mind....or is Bush going to make Iraq our 51st state?

    July 21, 2007 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  13. Pete, T.S. FL

    “Defense Department Undersecretary Eric Edelman”

    Let’s see this guy used to work for Cheney, he is another one of those who drink the Kool-Aid. America, wake up! Just because you seek answers doesn’t make you the enemy. The real enemy of America is deceit, cover-up and incompetence and this enemy is fed by the B.S. spewed by those of you who wear blinders and no matter what and no matter the cost in lives and money to our great nation.


    July 21, 2007 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  14. TJ Murfreesboro, TN

    It's obvious that we don't have a plan for withdrawal from Iraq yet. If we did, they could easily do a classified briefing of center members of congress that are members of specific commitees. But we are unprepared once again and we don't want to admit it.

    July 21, 2007 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  15. Anonymous

    Maybe some of you clowns don't realize that it is the Senate Armed Services Committee's job to review strategy.

    Especially when $ billions of taypayers are being spent, and it is their job to represent the people.

    Edelman basically is just trying to play games and (ab)use his position as Cheney's henchman to deny her this info,

    July 21, 2007 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  16. B.ProsserME

    Does Sugar Ray go into the ring with a cut-and-run strategy?

    Hillary's no warrior, she's a wimp.

    July 21, 2007 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  17. Edward: San Rafael, CA

    Perhaps the people who object to Congress's exercise of its Constitutional responsibility for oversight, have some things in their own lives they don't want discovered, and this is why they object so vehemently to anyone's interrogation. This kind of inquiry, regardless of its legal grounding in the US Constitution, may represent a significant threat to them, raising fear and terror at the thought of being exposed for their own "Secrets."

    I have found that often, those who speak in support of others who flout and break the law, are themselves guilty of breaking their promises to their spouses, business partners, etc., and this is the reason for their staunch support of scoundrels and law breakers.

    July 21, 2007 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  18. Jan, Nashua, NH

    It's clear that Bush didn't have a plan for Iraq, besides dropping a lot of ammunition on the first night to make some pretty pictures and then flying onto an aircraft carrier for a photo op.

    I guarantee Bush has NO IDEA how to get out of Iraq.
    Thank goodness the Rubberstamp Republicans are starting to realize Bush is taking them off a cliff. Maybe we can finally stop this fatal fiasco.

    And if the Rubberstamp Republicans fail us once again...
    It takes a Clinton to clean up a Bush mess. We did it before; we can do it again. 🙂

    July 22, 2007 07:44 am at 7:44 am |
  19. Anonymous

    Just what we need, more laws on the books. Geez

    July 22, 2007 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  20. Steve, Bakersfield, CA

    As I remember, H.C. and J.K. were for the war when it was the popular position. Now they're against the war. Both said, "Had I known then what I know now..." All they knew then was the the war was popular. We need to learn from our past. I'm not sure going in was "right." We're there now, we need to finish the job–we made a mess, we need to fix it and get out. Not, get out while it's broken.

    July 22, 2007 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |